Kinnick will be roaring, Bret Bielema returns to Madison and Northwestern gets a new stadium. This will get you ready for a Big Ten football weekend!
Big Ten Football Notes
GAME OF THE WEEK:
This is an easy choice. It’s No. 4 Michigan (4-0, 1-0) at Iowa (3-1, 1-0). You think the Hawkeyes remember the 42-3 pummeling they took at the hands of the Wolverines in the 2021 Big Ten championship game? You think the Hawkeyes are happy to have the Wolverines pay a visit to raucous Kinnick Stadium?
Michigan has lost four straight there, not winning since 2005. You think the Hawkeyes are chomping at the bit knowing that Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy will make his first Big Ten road start Saturday against a defense that has allowed less than six points a game and only 3.45 yards per snap?
The Hawkeyes’ defense scored two touchdowns and came up with three turnovers in Iowa’s 27-10 win at Rutgers last week. Iowa’s offensive woes are well documented. Saturday’s game could be a low-scoring slugfest where every point matters.
WELCOME BACK BRET:
Former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema will return to Madison on Saturday with Illinois (3-1, 0-1), his new team, to face the Badgers (2-2, 0-1). It will be the first time Bielema will coach at Camp Randall Stadium (speaking of raucous places) in a decade. Bielema coached Wisconsin for seven seasons and did quite well, winning 68 games to two Rose Bowls.
Did you know the Illini are off to their best start since 2015 and boast the Big Ten football and FBS’ leading rusher in Chase Brown? Probably not, considering the 5-foot-11, 205-pound junior from London, Ontario, a transfer from Western Michigan, piled up 604 yards and three touchdowns against Wyoming, Indiana, Virginia and Chattanooga. Brown also leads the nation with 21 rushes of 10 yards or more.
Brown is no flash in the pan, though. He was Illinois’ leading rusher last season with 1,005 yards on 170 carries and he ran for five touchdowns. His twin brother Sydney also plays for Illinois. His mother Raechel was a figure skater. Perhaps that’s where he gets his elusiveness.
Say so long to Northwestern’s Ryan Field. The Wildcats’ longtime home, which was built in 1926, will be demolished so a new $800 million stadium with a seating capacity of about 35,000 can be built, according to a story posted in ChicagoBusiness.com.
A press release issued by Northwestern claims the new stadium will have “the best sight lines in college football and a premium experience, including chair backs, for every fan as well as an innovative student section modeled on other sports; cutting-edge technology and scoreboards; upgraded concessions featuring food from local restaurants; and iconic design features inside and out.”
Sounds like there will be plenty of reasons for fans to attend Northwestern games. How behind the times is Ryan Field? It’s the only FBS football stadium in the country without permanent lights. Ryan Field currently seats 47,130, so the capacity will drop by nearly 26% in the new stadium.
Gophers Are Front-Runners
Big Ten football West favorite Minnesota is one of only three FBS teams that has not trailed this season. The others are Georgia and Washington. …
How far has Nebraska fallen? Indiana comes to town Saturday a 5.5-point favorite. The Huskers have lost nine of their last 10 games. …
Ohio State is going to have to do some work to cover the spread against Rutgers on Saturday. The Buckeyes opened the week as 41.5-point favorites. …
Northwestern is tied for the Big Ten West lead at 1-0. While that sounds good, the Wildcats have lost three straight to non-conference foes Duke, Southern Illinois and Miami of Ohio, all at home at the aforementioned Ryan Field. Northwestern will play Saturday at Penn State (4-0, 1-0).